A neighbor, sending an email about another matter, asked that question I hear too often: Are you walking yet? It was well intentioned, and I’m afraid my reply was a rant. Two years ago this month I had a rather bizarre surgery on my hip—the damage to the hip was such that the surgeon had to invent a new technique to repair it. And I’ll sing his praise loud and long, because I have been walking, with a walker, since a month or two after the surgery, though full recovery took a lot longer.
But today I can dance with my walker—you should see my sidestep! (I have actually seen dance classes for people on walkers,though I don't' know of any around here.) The thing is, “Are you walking yet” is the wrong question. Yes, I’m walking. Is the walker going away? No, It’s a lifetime companion, and for a good reason. My balance was never a strong point all my life, and it’s shakier than ever now. And I have a semi-phobic fear of open spaces (and heights), so I’m a candidate for a fall. And before the surgery, I fell a lot.
Once before the surgery I fell in the parking lot at Central Market, and a man rushed to help, asking, “Are you all right.” I replied, “Oh, yes, I’ve fallen so often I’m used to it.” A bit taken aback, he said, “I guess, you’re a pro at it.”
The thing is that my surgeon has told me that another fall could render me bedridden, so he’s a big advocate for the walker. And so am I. It’s my security, my best friends. And it doesn’t keep me from doing much that I really want to do—I drive, I go out to eat, I shop, I run other errands. My life is full. So, “Ae you walking yet?” is the wrong question. I’m grateful for the interest, but the last thing I want is to be thought of as the “little old lady on a walker.” Think about hearing aids (yeah, I've got those too)--they don't change how you feel about a person, so why should a walker?
While I’m at it, the other questions I get is “How are you feeling?” Think about it. That’s not how you greet a friend who’s in good health. You may say, as my son did yesterday, “How’s it going?” or “What’s going on?” or, the question I like: “What are you writing?” Asking me how I feel implies that my health defines me, and I don’t want that to be the case. Yes, I’ve had some blips on my health screen—but I am over them, And to tell the truth, I’ve probably never felt better in my life.
I don’t mean to diss on those who ask, with genuine concern, about my health and well-being. I am grateful for the concern. But I am almost desperate to ensure that people not treat me like an invalid—or think of me that way. It’s an easy trap to fall into.